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Sci Rep. 2012;2:489. doi: 10.1038/srep00489. Epub 2012 Jul 3.

Poly-acetylated chromatin signatures are preferred epitopes for site-specific histone H4 acetyl antibodies.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


Antibodies specific for histone post-translational modifications (PTMs) have been central to our understanding of chromatin biology. Here, we describe an unexpected and novel property of histone H4 site-specific acetyl antibodies in that they prefer poly-acetylated histone substrates. By all current criteria, these antibodies have passed specificity standards. However, we find these site-specific histone antibodies preferentially recognize chromatin signatures containing two or more adjacent acetylated lysines. Significantly, we find that the poly-acetylated epitopes these antibodies prefer are evolutionarily conserved and are present at levels that compete for these antibodies over the intended individual acetylation sites. This alarming property of acetyl-specific antibodies has far-reaching implications for data interpretation and may present a challenge for the future study of acetylated histone and non-histone proteins.

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